5 Questions with Dr. Janis Reed, Sponsored by CSI

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PMPs know that ants make the phones ring in the spring. Here, Dr. Janis Reed, who completed her BS, MS and Ph.D. in entomology at Texas A&M University, shares the number one thing your staff can do to control ant pests better.

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April 4, 2021

Dr. Janis Reed, BCE, Technical Services Manager, PCO, Control Solutions Inc.
1. Why are ants so difficult to control?

“Ants” is broad term for thousands of species of insects, and PMPs encounter dozens of these in and around structures. The ability to distinguish one ant species from another and choose the appropriate control method is the most important skill a PMP can possess. By correctly identifying the pests and implementing control based on this information, success is much more likely.

2. How can I get better at ant identification?

Practice, practice, practice! Start with an ant you are confident of the identification. Get a good magnifying glass or microscope that magnifies the specimen 10-20 times its normal size. Then using an ant identification resource, find the identifying features for your ant. Look for the number of antennal segments, and nodes or fine hairs on the thorax or abdomen. This will help if you are unsure of the identification of a new ant sample. Then practice some more!

3. How can I get better at ant control?

Practice your ant identification. Trial and error for field applications usually works best. If one method isn’t working, try something new!

4. Are non-repellent active ingredients always the best choice for ant management?

Not always. While non-repellent insecticides have become the “go-to” for ant management, they are not the only tool in the toolbox. Repellents have their place in ant management, especially when ants need to be excluded from an area or room. Don’t discount their usefulness in a comprehensive ant management plan.

5. How do I choose the best bait for ant management?

PMPs find a bait that works for a particular ant species and stick with it. However, when they have a failure or a situation it doesn’t work, they lose faith in the product. A better option would be to identify the food sources ants are attracted to and use a bait that mimics those food items. If ants are attracted to a sweet food, use a sweet bait. If proteins seem to be the most attractive, use a protein-based bait. Give the foraging ants what they are already attracted to!